March 13, 2003

Darkness Visible

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This week, our own Chris Wells caught up with Ithaca journalist and novelist Beth Saulnier to talk about her series of murder mystery novels, the newest of which, Ecstasy, hit shelves recently. In them, detective reporter Alex Bernier braves the deepest gorges, coldest waters, and stoned-est hippies to bring the truth to light in a small upstate college town. Sound familiar? Gabriel, New York, and its local university, Benson, bear some striking similarities to a town we all know and love. Saulnier, much like her main character, is a reporter, critic, and … that’s about it. As far as we know, Saulnier’s never been stalked by a serial killer. She is, however, the Associate Editor of the Cornell Alumni Magazine, which is almost as cool.

Ms. Saulnier will be reading and signing books at the Ithaca Public Library on Sunday at 2:30, and at Barnes and Noble on Saturday April 5 at 2:00.

DAZE: What got you started writing mysteries?

SAULNIER: I have always been a big murder mystery fan, starting with Nancy Drew. I mean literally, in my house in Cayuga Heights, I have every Nancy Drew book and every Hardy Boy book that was published when I was a kid in the seventies. When I got a little older I read all the Agatha Christie books, and then when I got a little older than that was the eighties and there was this big renaissance of women’s detective fiction.

And so I got really into them, they really weren’t speaking to my generation. The women in these books were pretty much in their forties, and divorced — sometimes like five times — they had no kids, they had this certain like, ‘oh I don’t like men and I’m just going to sit at home and eat my TV dinner and solve crimes, with my trusty dog at my side.’

I really liked those books, but I wanted to write a book for me and my friends. At the time I was 25, total Generation X — and by the way it totally scares me that you’re Generation Y like there’s a whole other letter of the alphabet after me